Charlottetown Accord 1992
|Date: ||1 January 1992|
|Subject Matter:||Cultural Heritage | Economic Development | Education | Employment and Training | Environmental Heritage | Forestry | Health and Community Services | Mining and Minerals | Self Government|
|Summary Information: |
|The Charlottetown Accord was a package of constitutional amendments proposed by the federal and provincial governments of Canada in 1992. It was submitted to a public referendum on 26 October of that year but was defeated. The Accord attempted to resolve long-term disputes regarding the division of powers between federal and provincial jurisdictions. In 1992, the federal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as representatives from the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Council of Canada, the Inuit Tapirisat and the Metis National Council had come to the agreement known as the Charlottetown Accord. It provided for exclusive provincial jurisdiction over forestry, mining and natural resources, along with cultural policy. It also required the federal and provincial governments to harmonise policy in the areas of telecommunications, labour development and training, regional development and immigration. The Accord also proposed a social charter to promote objectives in the areas of health, welfare, education, environmental protection, collective bargaining and standard of living. It also addressed the matter of Aboriginal self-government.|
|Detailed Information: |
|The Charlottetown Accord was agreed upon after extensive public consultation and negotiations with the provinces, territories and Aboriginal peoples of Canada. The proposals ultimately put to referendum were to renew the Constitution and serve as the foundation for ‘a renewed federalism that will secure our future together’. The matters addressed by the proposals included:
Unity and diversity;
Fair and responsive institutions;
Justice for First Peoples;
Reduction of duplication and serving Canadians better; and
The Amending formula.
As such the Accord dealt with numerous constitutional issues including the division of legislative powers (see above), and the federal powers of reservation and disallowance. Federal spending was to have been subject to tighter controls. The Accord would have guaranteed federal funding for programs relating to Medicare, social services and the like. Such programs generally fall within provincial jurisdiction, however the federal government had, in the past, frequently attached conditions to any financing arrangements. The Accord proposals would have served to limit the federal government’s ability to do so.
The Accord also contained the ‘Canada Clause’ which served to codify the values definitive of the Canadian character. Such values included egalitarianism, diversity and the recognition of Quebec as a distinct society within Canada. The clause would act as an interpretive provision, directing courts to construe the Constitution having regard to such constitutionally entrenched values. Additionally, there was in principle approval of Aboriginal self-government, although the concept was only to be recognised in the courts after a three year period in order for further negotiations to establish the form it would take.
The Accord also proposed significant institutional changes such as:
The Constitutional entrenchment of the appointment process and composition of the Supreme Court of Canada;
Entrenchment of Senate reform; and
Changes to the House of Commons.
The Accord would have formally institutionalised the federal/provincial/territorial consultative process and provided for aboriginal inclusion in certain circumstances.
The Accord’s ratification process required a national referendum which needed to be approved by a majority of voters in each province. Failure in even one province would prevent its success. First Nation groups endorsed the Accord, along with the Liberal Party, the National Democratic Party, and a broad range of public and business groups. Quebec separatists demonstrated strong opposition however, unconvinced that it gave Quebec adequate powers. The Accord ultimately failed at referendum with 54 percent of voters opposing its ratification. To date, no further attempts to negotiate an agreement have been made.|